Working memory functioning in schizophrenia patients and their first-degree relatives: Cognitive functioning shedding light on etiology

Heather M. Conklin, Clayton E. Curtis, Monica E. Calkins, William G Iacono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is accumulating evidence for involvement of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. A primary function supported by the PFC is working memory (WM). Findings from WM studies in schizophrenia can provide insight into the nature of clinical symptoms and cognitive deficits associated with this disorder, as well as begin to suggest areas of underlying neuropathology. To date, studies have not adequately investigated different WM domains (e.g., verbal, spatial, or object) or processing requirements (e.g., maintenance, monitoring, or manipulation), shown to be associated with distinct patterns of neural activation, in schizophrenia patients and their well relatives. Accordingly, this study evaluated the performance of schizophrenia patients, their first-degree biological relatives, and nonpsychiatric controls on a comprehensive battery of WM tasks and investigated the association among WM deficits and schizophrenia-spectrum psychopathology. The findings indicate that schizophrenia patients are consistently impaired on WM tasks, irrespective of WM domain or processing requirements. In contrast, their unaffected relatives are only impaired on WM tasks with higher central executive processing requirements. This pattern of WM performance may further implicate DLPFC dysfunction in the liability for schizophrenia and has implications for future cognitive, genetic, and neurodevelopmental research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)930-942
Number of pages13
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume43
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

Keywords

  • Central executive
  • Domain-specific
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC)
  • Endophenotype
  • Process-specific
  • Schizotypy

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